Finding Innovation Solutions for an Aging Population
Ten thousand people in the United States turned 65 yesterday. That will happen again today, tomorrow, and every tomorrow, for the next 19 years.
Social changes on a scale never seen before will result. Whether those changes mean massive social and economic disruption, or a world of opportunity, depends in large measure upon the ability to innovate.
How people interact with society, home and community changes throughout life, including their spatial cognition, balance and strength. Those changes call for modification of the “built environment” and the enabling technologies embodied in the environment. Some of the required changes constitute opportunities to think differently.
“According to the World Health Organization, the aging of the human population is the most significant demographic shift in human history,” said Kelli Wright, co- director, Consortium for Aging in Community in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. “What’s more, this shift is anticipated to be enduring and brings with it a lot of uncharted territory as far as products, services, systems and policy. This world-altering phenomenon demands innovative ways of thinking and multidisciplinary, collaborative responses. Fortunately, UMKC has the right mix of programs to offer such responses.”
UMKC’s Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation and the Consortium for Aging in Community are sponsoring a workshop, “Aging and Innovation: Discovering Opportunity,” to discuss innovative ways to address the issues surrounding aging.
The workshop will take place from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 17 and 8 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Henry W. Bloch Executive Hall for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, 5108 Cherry Street, Kansas City, Mo., rooms 330-332. It is free, and the Institute will provide food. Participants must enroll for the entire workshop.
Approximately 50 people are expected to participate. In the workshop, a panel of older adults will describe their lives; what they do and don’t do; what they find difficult or time consuming; and what wastes money or causes hassle. Participants will go through an intensive two-day workshop with the intention of creating solutions to some of these issues.
Teams will include faculty and students representing a broad cross-section of academic domains – nursing, business, law, biomechanical engineering, health sciences, music, neurobiology, social work, psychology, public affairs, political science, gerontology and entrepreneurship. The teams also will include a broad cross-section of individuals from the community.
Sessions will include interviews with a panel of older adults, as well as sessions on problem identification, design thinking, creativity and ideation, feasibility assessment, business model development and client validation. The workshop culminates with team presentations of early-stage startup concepts.
“Kelli has educated me regarding the scope and significance of the phenomenon of aging, and we have found a number of ways to put the resources of our areas to work on this important issue, with this workshop being one of them,” said John Norton, director of research and institute programs, Regnier Institute. “This is the first collaboration between the two. Our next effort will be a course offered in the General Education curriculum, to be jointly taught by a gerontologist, a biomedical engineer and a management scientist. Stay tuned.”